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  June 14th, 2017 | Written by

Colombia: A Top-Three Supplier to the United States

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  • Colombia has experienced a remarkable transformation in the last few years.
  • Colombia has become one of the most attractive markets in Latin America to invest.
  • Colombia is a source of successful businesses looking to expand into the US.

Colombia has become one of the top three providers of 64 goods to the United States, making it a commercial ally in more than just in the oil and mining sectors. These exports grew 12 percent between 2012 and 2016, reaching more than $3.8 billion last year.

The export growth has come after the launch of a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the countries in 2012.

According to data of the United States International Trade Commission (USITC), Colombian exporters made the top-three ranking and achieved top-of-mind awareness with consumers for products such as building materials, coffee, flowers, shapewear, Tahiti limes, and tilapia fillets.

“Being among the United States’ top three suppliers is a significant demonstration of the good commercial relationship that the FTA has created with the United States,” said Felipe Jaramillo, president of ProColombia, a government agency promoting exports, tourism, and foreign investment in Colombia. “Though there are market opportunities yet to explore, 64 products are already well positioned for the American consumer to choose from.”

Among some of the top goods Colombia produces and exports, the US imported more than $1 billion of Colombian coffee in 2016 and over $792 million of Colombian flowers that same year. The US is the only market that buys the Colombian tilapia fillets. According to the Colombian National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), tilapia fillet exports totaled $38.6 million in 2016.

Colombia surpassed China in the supply of aluminum window frames to the US in 2016. Colombian exports of these products to the US totaled $133 million last year. Colombia is the number two provider of ceramic roof tiles to the US, less than Mexico but more than Spain, totaling $1.2 million in 2016.

According to the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the country has positioned itself as a trusted provider of bananas because of its long experience and consistency in the market, and its logistical advantages. In addition, seasons do not affect banana production; they can be provided in great volumes between January and September.

Colombia has opportunities to continue to increase its market share among the top suppliers to the US. Based on ProColombia’s research, exporters can increase the sales of more products in volume terms to the US because many of them enter the country without a tariff. These include the golden berry (Cape gooseberry) and Hass avocado (once USDA clears it for importing), as well as bathing suits, sports apparel and underwear. Others are cocoa and it derivatives, plus auto parts, cosmetics, flour and baking products, glass containers, handicrafts, household goods, medicine, and plastic lids.